5 takeaways as Trump's legal troubles mount

Former President Trump’s legal crises are growing more serious this week and show no signs of fading, even as his 2024 bid for the White House barrels forward. 

Federal prosecutors filed additional serious charges against Trump on Thursday over his handling of classified materials after leaving the White House, and anticipation has reached a fever pitch over whether Trump will be charged in Washington, D.C., for his conduct after the 2020 election.

Here are five takeaways from the latest legal developments around Trump.

The new documents case charges are serious

The additional charges filed in Thursday’s superseding indictment point to more serious allegations against Trump that could make his grip on the GOP more tenuous in the months to come.

Prosecutors laid out a new set of allegations that Trump acted with two aides in attempts to delete surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago after prosecutors subpoenaed it in connection with their investigation in June 2022. Trump now faces two new obstruction charges in connection with the allegations.

The indictment also included a new charge over Trump’s retention of a classified document containing secret Pentagon plans to attack Iran. The document is at the center of a recorded conversation mentioned in the original indictment in which Trump is discussing the materials with individuals who did not have security clearances. 

The former president has tried to claim that he may not have had the physical document at the time, but the fresh allegations suggest prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to bring charges over the incident.

The nature of the allegations are sure to fuel further charges from Trump’s critics that he is unfit for office.

“I’ve never been indicted and I am not a lawyer, but if you are deleting evidence, it is because you know you are committing a crime,” former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a 2024 presidential candidate, said Thursday night. “And anybody who supports this, anybody who defends this, is complicit in endangering America.”

Trump’s circle is increasingly implicated

The superseding indictment added a third defendant to the case: Carlos De Oliveira, the property manager of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

De Oliveira joins longtime Trump aide Walt Nauta in being charged in connection with the former president’s retention of classified documents and possible obstruction of efforts to get them back.

The indictment alleges De Oliveira, 56, extensively pushed Mar-a-Lago’s director of information technology (IT) — who was not charged or named in the indictment — to delete surveillance footage after prosecutors subpoenaed it in June 2022 in connection with their investigation.

Other Trump associates could still be implicated in the ongoing investigations into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, particularly over a scheme to appoint alternative electors that would flip the Electoral College in Trump’s favor.

“Sadly, I’ve made this statement to many different people … Walt Nauta, run. Carlos [De Oliveira], run,” said Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who reached a deal with prosecutors in Manhattan and has since turned against the former president.

Volume of legal risks is on the rise

One concern for Trump is that the sheer volume of charges against him is mounting, increasing his legal exposure.

The superseding indictment in the documents case means Trump now faces a total of 40 criminal counts in that case alone, three more than he did previously.

Trump is separately facing 34 felony counts in Manhattan over allegations of a hush money scheme to keep quiet allegations of an affair.

And Trump may face charges elsewhere; he is still under federal investigation in Washington, D.C., and in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Legal experts have noted that the more charges Trump faces, the greater his risk of being convicted on even a single count. “If you had a choice, you wouldn’t want to be indicted in three different jurisdictions,” said one Republican strategist.

Jan. 6 charges loom

Trump attorneys met with special counsel Jack Smith’s office Thursday over the investigation into the former president’s efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election.

With an indictment seeming imminent, Trump’s lawyers sought to make the case for why their client should not be charged.

A grand jury has typically been meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though no indictment was announced this week.

Still, Trump has received a target letter in the case, typically a sign that prosecutors have enough evidence to charge an individual in an investigation.

On top of the anticipation that is building over charges in D.C., the former president is under investigation in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the state’s election results in 2020. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has indicated charges could be announced in August, setting up for yet another cycle of bad legal developments for the former president.

Trump ups pressure on GOP allies

As the legal pressure on Trump mounts, he has turned to some of his Republican allies to ratchet up their defenses.

Trump, in comments to Fox News Digital after the superseding indictment was filed, complained that the charges against him were “ridiculous” and that the Justice Department was abusing its power.

“Hopefully the Republican Party will do something about it,” Trump said.

The former president’s comments may turn up the heat on some of his supporters in the House, and even Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to back funding cuts to the special counsel’s office. Such measures have been floated by staunch Trump allies such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

The reality for Republicans is they will have to continue to answer questions about Trump’s conduct as the cases against him develop and the charges potentially mount.

Trump, asked if he would end his 2024 campaign even if convicted, told conservative radio host John Fredericks, “not at all.”

“There’s nothing in the Constitution to say that it could. And not at all,” Trump said. “Even the radical left crazies are saying no, that wouldn’t stop. And it wouldn’t stop me either.”

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